There’s a lot more to trees, gardens and other green spaces than good looks alone. Greenery works quietly away in the background enhancing our lives and helping built-up areas adapt to changing climate conditions. Greenery also has a natural knack for bringing people together. So, all in all, it’s a good thing our city has greenery in spades!
Adelaide today continues to be rewarded by what was a thoughtful and innovative approach to creating the city’s original design.
Colonel William Light, South Australia’s first Surveyor-General, was responsible for centrally positioning Adelaide between the Adelaide Hills and the sea and designing a layout which has allowed the city to grow in balance with nature.
His vision was to create a city of the future: one that celebrated the surrounding landscape and prioritised people’s wellbeing and quality of life. He created a grid-like pattern of wide streets, tree-lined terraces and public squares where people could connect, celebrate and contemplate – and wrapped it all in a natural green embrace we call the Adelaide Park Lands.
The importance of Light’s unique ‘city in a park’ design is recognised widely in urban planning circles and celebrated through inclusion of both his city layout and the Park Lands themselves on Australia’s prestigious National Heritage List.
Light’s vision continues through the planning of our city’s future, with green infrastructure an essential part of the City of Adelaide’s holistic design approach.
Whether it’s trees, grass, shrubs, plants, community and verge gardens, nature strips or green walls, these living elements all help build Adelaide’s climate resilience and enhance people’s wellbeing. Read on to discover just a few reasons why greenery is gold …
Light was rather revolutionary when he bestowed the city with its many public squares. At that time, access to such leafy areas in cities was often only for a privileged few.
Adelaide’s city squares and surrounding Park Lands are open to all. They host major events that bring thousands of people together but are also places of quiet reflection.
Perrin Abbas has been offering free weekly yoga classes at Wellington Square / Kudnartu since moving to North Adelaide from Dubai last year.
Born in India, Adelaide reminds Perrin of her birthplace Pune where she grew up in the 1980s: “beautiful, green and easy-going”. Of her new home, she couldn’t be happier.
“We’re very lucky to have so many open spaces and Park Lands as well as encouraging activities and classes that help people connect with nature and one another,” said Perrin. “City parks are many peoples’ first contact with the outdoors and can spark in them a lifelong connection with the natural world.”
Perrin loves offering yoga classes in a natural arena.
“Having your feet in the grass is a great way to relieve stress and it’s an actual earth connection.,” said Perrin. “In yoga, we spend a lot of time focusing on our breathing. Deep breathing in nature adds that extra kick to oxygenate our bodies, which increases our energy. Also, mindfulness in an outdoor setting heightens mental awareness and allows us to notice patterns of tension that can be changed.”
The city’s Park Lands and gardens are already home to thousands of trees and our streets are getting greener too.
Last year, the City of Adelaide exceeded its current Strategic Plan target of planting 1,000 new street trees in the city by 2020. An extra 500 new trees were added to that goal, with the focus on planting in built-up areas with little or no canopy cover.
Environmentally, increasing tree canopy cover can help counter the Urban Heat Island effect. This is where the city stores the day’s heat in hard surfaces like concrete and roads, then slowly releases it after sunset – extending a hot day even further.
Shading streets with trees helps keep the city cool. Greenery can also make streets appear narrower which can persuade people to drive slower.
Green walls are natural eye candy, but their environmental benefits are their best feature. They reduce internal building temperatures, cool the local area, reduce reflection from glazed surfaces and lower the volume of storm water run-off.
Wander past the Majestic Roof Garden Hotel (Frome St), Clarity Wellness (Melbourne St) and the Princes Apartments (look on the eastern facade of this McHenry St building) to see some recently installed examples of this nifty form of Living Architecture. You can also feast your eyes on the City of Adelaide’s own thriving green wall at 25 Pirie St, if you visit Council’s Customer Centre.
Veggie patches don’t strictly count as ‘green infrastructure’ in the design world, but growing food in public city spaces is still an important part of sustainable urban development. Thanks to the passion of volunteers, there are several flourishing Community Gardens throughout the CBD and North Adelaide producing quality, ‘low food miles’ food for locals to enjoy and meaningful opportunities to connect, learn and contribute.
Find out the location and contact details for all the Community Gardens inside the Adelaide metropolitan area at cityofadelaide.com.au/gardens